TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Spotlight_2Leslie M. Book (Villanova)

      • B.A. 1987, Franklin & Marshall
      • J.D. 1990, Stanford
      • LL.M. 1994, NYU   


Book_2 I principally teach in Villanova Law School’s low income taxpayer clinic. In the Clinic, I supervise students and, on occasion, actually roll up my sleeves and represent clients before the IRS and in Tax Court. Issues include mainstays of a controversy practice for individual taxpayers, like earned income credit disputes and considerations of alternatives to enforced collection (like offers in compromise), but also include cases touching on a wide range of subjects, like innocent spouse, casualty losses, passive activity losses, the hobby loss rules, and the taxation of settlement proceeds. The work is fun, and challenging, and satisfies my interests in different areas, including tax procedure, professional responsibility, administrative law and poverty law. It is also immensely rewarding to expose students to the benefits of public service and legal representation for those generally without access to lawyers. Likewise, I get great pleasure from the privilege of introducing my students to the messy business of actually representing clients.

My most recent scholarship has been looking at the relationship of the IRS’s collection adjudications in CDP proceedings through the prism of constitutional and administrative law principles. Like the work addressing the delivery of benefits through the tax system, my writing on tax collection draws heavily from my experiences in the clinic, especially how collection process often is a backstop to prevent erroneous IRS actions.

I have been fortunate to have been influenced by many steady hands and brilliant minds along my path from practice to academics. In the 90’s I spent about three years at Davis Polk in New York and two years with Baker & McKenzie in New York, where I was able to work with people like Carr Ferguson and Michael Saltzman and develop as a tax lawyer specializing in controversies.

After my second child was born in 1997, I had made up my mind to shift, at least for a while, from the private sector. I was considering positions at Treasury and IRS, but one day at an ABA Tax Section meeting in D.C, I stumbled into a room where I heard a talk that current National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson and Janet Spragens from AU were leading on tax clinics. Not having seriously thought about an academic career, I nonetheless was intrigued, and was fortunate to land a position as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Quinnipiac. After three rewarding years at Quinnipiac, I moved to a tenure track position as Director of the Tax Clinic at Villanova, where I have been for the past 4 years.

Outside the Law School, I have been active in the ABA Tax Section, serving as past Chair of the ABA Tax Section’s Low Income Taxpayer Committee, which was a lot of fun. My time there coincided with a rapid growth of tax clinics at law schools and legal service organizations, and I learned a great deal from that experience. These days, I spend a fair bit of time coaching kids’ sports (I am about to begin my 1st stint in Little League coaching 7 year old boys—after this I might even be ready for an administrative job at the Law School) and working on my tennis game.

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